The Ultimate Guide to Laser Resurfacing
Autumn is here, which means more to us skincare enthusiasts than pumpkin spice lattes and fall sweaters. It's laser season!
After months accumulating sun damage for that summer glow, it is now time to see your cosmetic surgeon for some tried and true skin resurfacing. Autumn and winter months are the best for laser procedures since your skin will become hypersensitive to sun exposure. As daytime hours get shorter you're most likely spending most of your time indoors.
What is Laser Resurfacing?
Laser resurfacing is a cosmetic procedure utilizing a laser to remove layers of damaged skin in order for new, fresh cells to resurface. This helps improve the appearance of wrinkles, scars, and even blemishes.
Laser skin resurfacing is also known as laser peel, lasabrasion, or laser vaporization. It is known to be one of the best ways to improve skin tone and texture.
How Does It Work?
Lasers used for skin resurfacing are very precise and work to remove skin one layer at a time. A laser beam is used to remove the outermost layer of your skin (the epidermis). This beam of light also heats the skin underneath which stimulates the growth of new collagen fibers.
As unwanted and damaged skin is removed, new skin that forms underneath is much firmer and smoother.
What Can Laser Skin Resurfacing Improve?
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons lists the following for things laser skin resurfacing can improve:
- Fine lines or wrinkles around or under your eyes, forehead or mouth
- Scars from acne or chickenpox
- Non-responsive skin after a facelift
- Aged or sun-damaged skin
- Liver spots
- Improve your complexion if you have yellowish or grayish skin tones
- Birthmarks such as linear epidermal nevi
- Enlarged oil glands on the nose
Ablative Vs. Non-Ablative
As you research laser procedures you will come across the words 'ablative' and 'non-ablative'. These work on different layers of your skin. Ablative laser treatments work on the surface skin cells of your epidermis, while non-ablative treatments work on the mid-layer of your skin, or the dermal collagen, only.
Different Laser Options
There are a variety of lasers for different patients and concerns. They are differentiated by the medium that produces the laser beam. Here are a few you are likely to come across.
CO2 Lasers involve the use of carbon dioxide and an ablative laser to remove deeper skin issues such as scars, warts, and wrinkles. They are the highest intensity available so they are used for deep wrinkles and scars.
Pulsed-Dye Lasers heat the skin and absorb pigments to reduce skin discoloration conditions such as rosacea, redness, broken capillaries, and hyperpigmentation.
Fractional Lasers reduce the downtime, or time it takes to heal, by breaking the laser up into thousands of microscopic treatment zones. They work on the epidermal and dermal layers of skin, bridging the gap between ablative and non-ablative lasers. Fractional lasers treat sun-damaged and aging skin.
Erbium Laser Resurfacing can be a good option for darker skin tones. It has fewer side effects than CO2 lasers and recovery time is quicker. Erbium lasers can be ablative or non-ablative and encourage collagen renewal.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is a treatment similar to laser resurfacing since it uses light to treat skin problems, but it uses a broad spectrum of light wavelengths and short pulses. It's non-ablative and requires little to no downtime. IPL is great for pigmentation issues and complexion.
Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet) is a crystal that is used as a laser medium. It has the capability to reach deeper layers of skin tissue than other types of lasers and is great for tattoo removal, hair removal, pigmentation issues and varicose or spider veins.
When deciding which laser skin resurfacing treatment to get, speak with a certified cosmetic surgeon for a recommendation. They will be able to address the skin problems you are experiencing and the results you want to achieve.
Who Should Avoid Laser Resurfacing?
Patients who are taking certain medications, have diabetes or other chronic conditions, or have compromised skin, are not good candidates for laser skin resurfacing.
If you are taking any medications or supplements make sure to tell your provider. Some medications can increase the risk of bleeding, poor healing or scarring after laser.
Be open and honest about your medical history as well. If you are prone to cold sores, laser treatments may induce breakouts. Diabetes can impact the results and safety of laser resurfacing.
It is also recommended to quit smoking for 2 weeks before your laser appointment to avoid healing complications.
Preparing For Your Laser Resurfacing Treatment
Before your laser resurfacing treatment, it is important to protect your skin from anything that can sensitize it. This includes avoiding tanning or heavy sun exposure, deep peels or other skin resurfacing procedures, and medications that cause photosensitivity.
If you have a history of cold sores, your doctor can start you on an antiviral medication two days before treatment to lessen your chances of breaking out.
To make sure your skin is in optimal repair before your laser treatment, use high quality skincare and cosmetics. Allow your skin to breathe with Oxygenetix Foundations and keep your skin moisturized with our Hydro-Matrix.
The Laser Resurfacing Experience
As your provider prepares you for your laser procedure, they will administer something to make you more comfortable. The laser may feel like a rubber band being snapped against your skin, with intensity varying between lasers and patient. For deeper ablative treatments such as CO2 or Erbium Lasers, you may receive a local anesthetic injection or even intravenous sedation to keep you comfortable. For non-ablative laser treatments there will be little to no pain and your provider will apply a topical numbing cream.
Your provider will apply the laser to a small area of your skin at a time. They may use different frequencies for different areas of your face and neck.
When the treatment is done, they will apply a special cream or dressing to the skin to alleviate some of the sensations and help the healing process. Oxygenetix Hydro-Matrix is used by many cosmetic surgeons post-laser to soothe the inflamed skin and promote oxygen uptake to the skin cells. Oxygenetix also has the only foundation recommended post-procedure. Oxygenating Foundation may be applied immediately after laser resurfacing to help conceal redness and further protect the compromised skin.
After you have had your laser procedure, it is important to wear a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher to protect your investment. It's best to just avoid the sun altogether since your skin will be fairly compromised.
Your healing process will vary depending on the type of laser used. Non-ablative lasers won't require much downtime at all, while ablative lasers may have a two to three week healing time.
Your skin will be raw, red, and scab over as you heal. Avoid using skincare products that aren't designed for post-procedure care.
Medical experts apply Oxygenetix immediately post-procedure due to its superior ability to promote rapid skin healing and provide instant comfort and relief. Oxygenetix is recognized as the "go to" for breathable topicals that physicians from burn centers to cosmetic clinics recommend to heal and protect their patient's healing skin.
Oxygenetix Hydro-Matrix is applied first to soothe the skin, protect against moisture loss, and reduce inflammation. Hydro-Matrix also creates the perfect base for your Oxygenetix Foundation. To achieve coverage and minimize downtime after your laser treatment use Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation to safely cover and protect your skin. In order to avoid infection, use a disposable sponge to apply your Oxygenating Foundation, using a new one each time. Use a gentle tapping motion when applying your Hydro-Matrix followed by your Oxygenating Foundation. This way you can layer easily for more coverage, and avoid peeling off your healing skin.
Be gentle with yourself and avoid swimming, sweating profusely, and touching your face. Do not peel the skin as it flakes off as this can cause scarring and disrupt the healing process! Ask your doctor what other recommendations they have for you to ensure you have a positive experience.
Get your Oxygenetix today and be fully prepared for your laser skin resurfacing treatment.
American Board of Cosmetic Surgery